On August 19, Tulsi Gabbard, who represents Hawaii's second congressional district, missed a Senate field hearing in Honolulu on veteran's affairs. U.S Senator Mazie Hirono, who frequently collaborates with Gabbard, had to run the hearing herself. Four days later, Gabbard's office put out a vague excuse about a prior commitment and traffic. Gabbard's no-show was a minor disappointment to those involved, but it didn't set off any red flags because congresswomen are busy people. But it turns out Gabbard missed the hearing because she was surfing Waikiki with Chris Moody for a Yahoo! News profile, not because she was glad-handing donors or waiting in a traffic jam.

Gabbard is an uncommon figure in American politics and it's easy to see why a national reporter like Moody would be interested in profiling her. When she was elected in 2012, she became the first Hindu and first person born in American Samoa to serve in the House. She's a decorated Captain in the National Guard, who spent most of 2004-2005 in Iraq, and 2009 in Kuwait. In 2011, she helped train the Indonesian Army. Her main political work is with the veteran community, unsurprising given her status as one of the first female combat vets in Congress. Gabbard spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and she remains a national media favorite given her unique history in a House mostly populated with white men.

The Honolulu Civil Beat broke the surfing story on Monday, a week after Gabbard sent out the profile to supporters and campaign contributors. Moody's story is heavy on the sports. He portrays Gabbard's passions for surfing and yoga as necessary release valves from the stress of Congress. The story was part of the "Extreme Recess" series that Moody is working on, in which he attempts to chip away at the "veneer of Beltway stuffiness" and show that the stars of Congress are just like us, mostly because they like playing sports. Moody and Gabbard were a perfect fit.

The whole scuttlebut is more absurd than it is sinister. Imagine a frantic meeting of staffers scrambling to try and cover up for their boss because she was... surfing. It's the most charming and mundane of Watergates, like something straight out of Veep. The hearing in question wasn't even Gabbard's, even if it was on her main issue. However, it speaks to the theater of American elections that politicians prioritize getting some PR for their surfing exploits over talking to veterans.

Sports are a classic tool of political self-promotion. Just this weekend, Marco Rubio's Twitter team tried to get his name in the papers by publicly lauding Florida QB Treon Harris.

Proud of but not surprised by @t5_harris leading #Gators to win. This young man is a winner both on and off the field pic.twitter.com/zUCaZTIgzR

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 4, 2014

Harris was arrested for sexual assault and suspended from the team on Monday, but the tweet is still up.

1969's "Game of the Century" between Arkansas and Texas was so important that a freshly elected Richard Nixon attended to celebrate ""the 100th anniversary of football." After Texas won, Nixon exercised his power by declaring them the national champions. Nixon made a calculated move by showing up at the game and putting on a common man facade. He narrowly lost both Texas and Arkansas in 1968, and by appearing to show interest in one of the most important games in both school's histories, he would be getting invaluable exposure in two swing states. Nixon carried both in 1972.

In fact, Nixon also takes home the award for the closest analog to Gabbard's surfing cover-up. He apparently ignored a quarter-million person anti-Vietnam protest in D.C. so that he could go watch another college football game. Compared to Nixon, Gabbard's decision to surf rather than go to a hearing seems small and funny. Then again, for all their social importance—both real and imagined—sports and politics often end up being small and funny. When the two intersect, there isn't much to be done other than snicker at the gallows humor.